Reports coming in indicate that injured persons are being turned away from hospitals because they are too many and all persons can’t receive treatment at the same time.
More than a kilometre away, Lizzie Porter, a correspondent, wrote of being knocked off her feet. Offices were destroyed as windows caved in from the force of the blast. People speculated about fireworks or fuel combusting. The Health Ministry, which is linked to Hezbollah, put out a statement after seven in the evening, blaming fireworks.
“I don’t buy the accident narrative,” wrote Ghanem Nuseibeh, an expert on the Middle East, on Twitter. Many, dazed and awestruck, fearful and confused, wondered what had happened. The elderly among them are saying that only the scenes from the Civil War era remind them of the streets covered in dust and rubble and broken glass like this.
Some sleuthing by Aurora Intel on Twitter found a video of what clearly looks like a fireworks storage slowly going off in tiny explosions before the big one. Samir Madani, the co-founder of Tanker Trackers, notes that two ships arrived recently, the cargo vessel Mero Star and the Raouf H. They both came from Ukraine. They could be transporting any number of things, including fireworks.
The question some are asking is whether there were other munitions in the area that caused the bigger explosions. Could a warehouse nearby have held fertilizer or nitrates? Could it be linked to Hezbollah weapons trafficking? These are the questions that the explosion brings to mind. Questions were raised also why anyone would store munitions so close to a civilian area. Others noted that Hezbollah has done this for years.
Some in Lebanon speculated that a missile or some kind of attack had caused the destruction. Ignorant people even suggested a “nuclear” attack. However, experts pointed out that is not possible and is just because people don’t understand what nuclear weapons do and look like. Non the missile theory continued into the evening hours with reports that people had “seen it,” even though there was no evidence of an airstrike. Tensions between Hezbollah and Israel no doubt underpinned this explanation.
Beirut is already suffering a financial crisis and electricity problems. It has had problems with garbage collection, protests and a seemingly endless list of political crises. The scale of destruction in offices and other areas appeared to be in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. This will ravage a Lebanon that is already financially ruined. Nevertheless, within an hour of the explosion, as fires burned in the port, hundreds of cars were driving back and forth on Charles Helou avenue by the port.